The New Veganism

Sloppy Joes, Veganized

By • January 30, 2014 • 10 Comments

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Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: For game day, feed your vegan friends these spicy, hearty, lentil-based sloppy Joes. Because they deserve something a little more special than chips and salsa. 

We’ve all had veggie burgers. Heck, we’ve had many of them. A vegan spin on sloppy Joes, however? This may be your first. 

Confession: These were my first sloppy Joes, too. I’d tried vegan sloppy Joes at a restaurant once, made with tofu, and they were a little too sloppy. The memory persisted, and I avoided making my own as a result. Recently, though, I resolved to try my hand at a lentil version, and oh, what a difference that made!

Lentils are a perfect base for this meatless recipe: They’ve got protein and texture, they absorb flavor nicely, and they cook up fast. They’re a cheap, nutritious, and flavorful base for this classic comfort food. 

Needless to say, these Joes come just in time for game day. Serve them up on hearty, whole grain buns with whatever toppings you like -- my favorites include pickles, grilled onions, sauerkraut, avocado slices, and radishes. The recipe has plenty of flavor as it is, but a dash of Tabasco or sriracha will fire it up a little more.

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for a few hours (or overnight) and rinsed
2 to 3
 cups water
 tablespoons olive oil
 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
 green or red bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 to 1 cup)
 clove garlic, minced
teaspoons chili powder
 teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon mustard powder, dried
15-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)
tablespoons tomato paste
tablespoon organic brown sugar or maple syrup
 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 
teaspoon sea salt, to taste
teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
cup vegetable broth (or more as needed)
whole wheat buns
Toppings of choice (Tabasco sauce, sriracha, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, coleslaw, avocado slices, etc.) 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom. 

Tags: vegan, vegan lunch, vegan sloppy joes, sloppy joes, superbowl, game day, comfort food, lentils, sandwiches, spicy, tabasco

Comments (10)


3 months ago Anne Margaret Shuham

I made this exactly as written and found them to be a really fun adaption to the traditional sloppy joes I grew up with.The spice combination was perfect!


3 months ago Katie Koteen

I like the addition of the fire roasted tomatoes! Looks delicious.


3 months ago arcane54

I'm going to try this! the spice mix sounds amazing. I've been making vegan sloppy joes with (locally made) tempeh (a cultured soy product). When crumbled it has the same texture as ground beef and eating sloppy joes takes me back to grade school. It was out monthly "hot lunch" option -- 50 cents, if I remember correctly!


3 months ago Marie Weber

Thank you for this recipe! I will try it soon. Been wanting an vegetarian variation of this classic. New meatless Monday option :)


3 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is an editor at Food52.

I am obsessed with these. Thanks, Gena!


3 months ago April Burch

I'm so appreciative of how thoughtful this blog is. Well done!


3 months ago Gena Hamshaw

Thank you, April!


3 months ago Lia

Sloppy Joes happen to be my all time favorite food! This is very exciting!


3 months ago Gena Hamshaw

Enjoy, Lia!


3 months ago scarymonster

Thanks for this. Will give it a try.